- Movie theaters like AMC have been closed for almost a month due to the coronavirus.
- Movie theaters may re-open at the end of July in a best-case scenario. In turn, many summer blockbusters may see their release delayed by a few months.
- It may be challenging for theater chains to attract viewers as the prospect of sitting in close proximity with dozens of strangers may not be appealing.
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Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the entire movie industry has come to a standstill. Movie productions are on hold for the foreseeable future and movie theaters themselves have been closed for about a month now. When AMC Theaters — which is the largest theater chain in the country — closed all of their theaters on March 17, the company said that they might re-open in about 12 weeks. A few weeks later, it now appears that that timeline was a tad too optimistic.
While the initial timeline might have seen AMC re-open their theaters in mid-June, the coronavirus has become more entrenched in large U.S. cities than many anticipated. Indeed, the United States has now seen more coronavirus deaths than any other country in the world. And though the coronavirus is seemingly peaking in major U.S. cities, stay-at-home directives may extend well into May and June.
All that said, a new report from Reuters claims that movie theaters are now aiming to re-open sometime in July, a timeline which would provide more time for health officials to get the coronavirus under control and theaters enough of a window to launch a few summer blockbusters.
Of course, given that the coronavirus situation changes week to week, nothing is set in stone just yet. What’s more, even if coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths plummet in the weeks ahead, people may remain wary of going to the movies and sitting in close proximity to dozens of strangers. In turn, this will impact the types of movies Hollywood studios even choose to release:
Hollywood studios are unlikely to release big-budget films when they cannot mount a nationwide release. Blockbusters such as Walt
DisneyCo’s “Mulan” and “Wonder Woman 1984” from AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros are currently scheduled for late July and August.
Some movies have been pushed back even further. The highly anticipated Top Gun sequel, for instance, was supposed to hit theaters in June but has since been pushed back to December 2020 to ensure the film doesn’t debut to half-filled theaters.
Incidentally, AMC is reportedly on the verge of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the company has no incoming cash and an avalanche of debt. The restructuring process wouldn’t see AMC go completely out of business but it might result in a number of AMC theaters closing up shop.